Interior designers love to delve into the power of objects; their provenance and their materiality, their power to transform a space and their ability to invoke memory. In her new exhibition at St. Paul’s NewStudio Gallery, Minneapolis-based international artist Harriet Bart works with everyday and found objects in her installation Accountan exquisite assemblage that asks viewers to reflect on time and memory.
Harriet Bart: Grateful open on Saturday October 8 and will be open until Saturday December 3. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. In addition to Accountthe exhibition includes many works available for purchase: two of them constructed from the material used by Bart in Accountand 16 framed pieces incorporating handmade paper, text and gold leaf.
Bart creates evocative content through the narrative power of objects, the theater of installation and the intimacy of artists’ books. At the heart of her work is a deep and abiding interest in the personal and cultural expression of memory. Use bronze, stone and gold leaf; wood and paper; books and words, Bart signifies a site, marks an event and draws attention to the imprints of the past as they live in the present.
For Account, Bart has created a painting that evokes memory, archetype and symbol. “I was captivated by the spaciousness, low ceilings and compressed feel of NewStudio Gallery,” says Bart. The installation includes table decor that “reflects the past, what we had and what we could lose,” she explains. In front of the table is a set of harrow discs, each containing a meaningful item: a mask-like animal bone, a stone similar to an ax handle, a barn model built by Bart, a tree burl , a bronze casting of a soapstone owl. Above each disc hangs a plumb line. Under Bart’s gaze and through his aesthetic, each object in the installation has undergone a transformation. Other works, some available for purchase, are also included in the exhibition.
“We live in a broken world,” Bart says. “Account is a cautionary tale. The stories I create are told through objects and images. Some of the objects of Account are relics of the past; others, artefacts of the present. The objects in this installation also come from the natural world, from cultural products collected or created or modified in the studio.
Beginning as a textile artist, Bart was a co-founding member of WARM (the Women’s Art Registry of Minnesota, one of the first feminist art collectives in the United States) and the Traffic Zone Center for Visual Art in Minneapolis, where she has her workshop. Bart’s work has been exhibited in the United States and Germany, and she has completed over a dozen public art commissions in the United States, Japan, and Israel. She has received fellowships from the Bush Foundation, McKnight Foundation, MacDowell Colony, Virginia Center for Creative Arts, Yaddo, NEA Arts Midwest, and Minnesota State Arts Board. Since 2000, she has published more than a dozen artists’ books and numerous works in mixed media. She has won three Minnesota Book Awards, most recently in 2015 for Ghost cards.